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Reviewer Profile – Monica K.


Reviewer Monica KOur new featured Reviewer for November 2020 is Monica K.

Monica has worked for Lincoln City Libraries since 2018, at the downtown Bennett Martin Public Library, and has been sharing reviews on our Staff Recommendations pages since early 2020. Reading and books have been an important part of her life since childhood, as she indicates in her answers to some of the following profile questions:

Would you care to share any personal info with our readers — such as where you grew up, what you read as a child, etc.?

I was born in Santa Monica, California, which is also my namesake.  Shortly after I was born, we went to go live with my Grandmother in Detroit, Michigan. I largely grew up in the Midwest: Michigan, Ohio, and Nebraska. I have two younger siblings, both of which I taught to read. Now they both read even more than I do. I am married to an electrician who likes to take things apart and put them back together for fun. I have one fur baby, Finn. He also goes by “Sven,”  thanks to my 7-year-old niece. He is a yellow lab/great pyrenees mix and is a sweet, cuddly bowl of pudding. My mom works at the Lincoln Children’s Zoo, and regales me with stories about the zoo animals.

How long have you been an active reader, and were there any particular books or authors or other people that “made you a reader”? Has there been any book or author that “changed your life” or strongly influenced you?

I remember my mom plopping me on the bed and having me pick out words that I could recognize out of childhood favorites by Dr. Seuss, Hans Christian Andersen and Aesop’s Fables. I would say my active reading was cultivated by my grade school teacher, Mrs. Wiesser. She introduced me to Island of the Blue Dolphins and my favorite children’s authors, Roald Dahl, Shel Silverstein and Bill Wallace. I remember when Bill Wallace came to our school and signed our books. This sparked my love for reading and writing. I ended up winning the Young Author’s Award and was able to go to Hastings, Nebraska to hear different authors speak and participate in workshops. Those years definitely shaped my relationship with reading. I later went on to get a degree in English. Life has taken me on a meandering path for sure, but now I am at the library, where I have always belonged.

How important are books and reading to you, currently?

Reading is very important to me, now as ever. I have found that my taste has ebbed and flowed over the years. I used to read a great deal of murder mysteries (Kathy Reichs!), then I moved on to historical fiction, followed by 18th century British Literature. I have really settled into non-fiction as my current “go to.” I still try and read fiction, particularly the One Book — One Lincoln selections, just to stay well-rounded.

How do you select what books to read next? What formats do you prefer (book, ebook, audiobook, etc.)?

I really can’t say, specifically, how I select the books I read. Sometimes they come to me in the form of referrals, sometimes I see them pop out from our displays, and sometimes I am just in the mood to learn about one thing or another. I really enjoy autobiographies, cook books and books about animals. I definitely prefer to feel the pages on my fingers and the weight of the book on my lap when I am reading! I am trying to come around to E-books. As far as audiobooks — I love the idea of them, but no dice for me.

What do you enjoy about writing book reviews/recommendations?

I love sharing good books. I am rarely disappointed when a book is recommended to me, so I try and do the same for our patrons.

What is your history with the Lincoln City Libraries – how long have you been a customer, and how long have you worked for LCL? Which locations?

I began visiting LCL when I moved here as a child. I distinctively remember feeling like Jennifer Connelly in the Labyrinth when I came to Bennett Martin as a child. I think I half-expected a worm to pop out of the Polly Music Library and greet me with “Ello.” I still remember admiring the glass-encased sheet music. I also have very fond memories of the book mobile, as well as a library in the Airpark area. I am not even quite sure it was an LCL library (it was — see the former Arnold Heights library listed in this short history of the Lincoln City Libraries on our website). I just remember it looked like a modular home with a wooden ramp and it was magical to me.

Are there any interesting book- or reading-related stories or bits of trivia in your past that you’d like to share with our readers?

I do have a pretty humorous story about how much reading meant to my sister and me. We were in our teens and school was out for summer. We lived on farm a very, very long way away from civilization. It had been a hot minute since we were able to drive the 25 miles to the library. That is right: back in my day (2005), I had to drive 25 miles to the library. When we were able to get our beloved books, we would cuddle up on the recliner next to the reading lamp, swaddled in a big fluffy blanket. Well, one day, during one of our library droughts, I walked into the living room and saw my sister in “reading position.” 

She was holding the book so low in her hands, I couldn’t see the book.  I didn’t think we had any in the house! I asked, rather excitedly, “Ooooh, what are you reading?” She looked up from her lap, smiled at me and slowly lifted her hands. 

It took me a second, but when I figured out what was going on, I died laughing:  Her lifted hands were posed as if she was holding a book, but she wasn’t.  She swiftly opened her hands to reveal her palms and said, “Hand. Book.” We laughed the joyous laugh of sisters and then she told me what story she was daydreaming about. So now, when we ask each other what book we are currently reading, the go to expression is, “Oh, you know, a handbook.” 

Do you have a favorite literary-related website you like to visit or that you’d like to recommend?

Aside from LibraryThing and Goodreads, I really like Amazon book reviews. Very highbrow, I know! I exclusively read Amazon reviews if I loathe a book — I find Amazon reviews to be brutally honest.

Do you use LibraryThing or GoodReads or any other personal library cataloging software to track your reading and/or share it in social media?

Alas, I am still trying to make my way up from the stone age, so, no.

and finally…

If there was only one author you could convince people to read, that author would be:

Not to be all philosophical, but the ONE author I would convince people to read, would be the one that speaks to them the most! A subjectively good author will write a book that make us feel grounded, connected and understood. But if you are rolling your eyes right now, I would say Sharon Labell’s interpretation of Epictetus’ The Art of Living:  The Classical Manual on Virtue, Happiness, and Effectiveness. I also adore Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen.

Booklists from Book Talks presented by Monica:
The Real Horse Whisperer and Other True Tales (February 2022)
Adult Storytime Readings – Summer 2022 (June/July 2022)

Click Here to Read Monica K.’s Reviews

Posted to the BookGuide pages in November 2020 | Last updated in July 2022